Hello Beautiful People,
Let us introduce you to The Newsroom, HBO’s newest show, from the brilliant mind of Aaron Sorkin. The Newsroom is a television show centered on the behind the scenes look at a staff of people who create a nightly cable news program. At the focus of the show is Jeff Daniels, who plays Will McAvoy, the networks anchor. In the opening scene, Jeff Daniels delivers a monologue that will give you goosebumps. If Daniels does not receive a Golden Globe nomination, well, there’s something seriously wrong. The show opens with a panel discussion that is being held for students at Northwestern University. Will McAvoy is on the panel, along with a liberal and conservative pundit. The moderator allows questions from the audience at one point, and one female co-ed asks:
“What makes America the greatest country in the world?”
The conservative pundit says “Freedom and freedom, and lets keep it that way.” The liberal pundit says “Diversity and opportunity.” McAvoy tries to dodge the question and not take a stance, and just agrees. After some prodding from the unsatisfied moderator, McAvoy responds with this:
It’s NOT the greatest country in the world, Professor. That’s my answer.
Fine. [to the liberal panelist] Sharon, the NEA is a loser. Yeah, it accounts for a penny out of our paychecks, but he [gesturing to the conservative panelist] gets to hit you with it anytime he wants. It doesn’t cost money, it costs votes. It costs airtime and column inches. You know why people don’t like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so fuckin’ smart, how come they lose so GODDAM ALWAYS!
And [to the conservative panelist] with a straight face, you’re going to tell students that America’s so starspangled awesome that we’re the only ones in the world who have freedom? Canada has freedom, Japan has freedom, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, Belgium has freedom. Two hundred seven sovereign states in the world, like 180 of them have freedom.
And you sorority girl, just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there are some things you should know, and one of them is that there is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world. We’re seventh in literacy, twenty-seventh in math, twenty-second in science, forty-ninth in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies. None of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student, but you, nonetheless, are without a doubt, a member of the WORST-period-GENERATION-period-EVER-period, so when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about?! Yosemite?!!!
We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right! We fought for moral reasons, we passed and struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, and we acted like men. We aspired to intelligence; we didn’t belittle it; it didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t scare so easy. And we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one—America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.
We have read several reviews by people attacking Sorkin, calling his writing elitist. And you know what? That. Is. Just. SAD. Yes, I said sad. To say that it’s elitist, well, it’s just rather juvenile. Think of something else to say. This show is not discussing astrophysics at a doctorate level. It’s not asking the American public to discuss War and Peace, or read Anna Karenina in both English and Russian. It’s discussing CURRENT EVENTS….
…& it’s asking people to THINK….
Oh, the horror.
Nobody thinks anymore. You can see it in classrooms, you can see it in network programming, heck, you see it every time the Huffington Post streams an article and readers misconstrue REALITY. It’s just downright frightening. God forbid we think. God forbid we question. Perhaps we research the opinions we hear of the political commentators that masquerade as new casters. Perhaps we turn on the television and discuss foreign policies rather than worrying about the latest Real Housewives disaster…IMAGINE what that would be like?
And for the critics, the point of this monologue is to remind the American public that we can be great AGAIN. It’s a dangerous thing when people get too big for their britches, but there’s no harm in remedying that…in fixing it. We should want to operate with class and intelligence, not fists and screams.
Give The Newsroom a look. Watch the first episode. Make your own decision about whether or not you like the show. Remind yourself that it IS a television show, and that there is creative license. But also remind yourself to think about the questions that it’s asking its audience to think about…there are plenty.